Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2012/256

The myth of generic DPA...and the magic of learning

Carolyn Whitnall and Elisabeth Oswald and François-Xavier Standaert

Abstract: A generic DPA strategy is one which is able to recover secret information from physically observable device leakage without any a priori knowledge about the device's leakage characteristics. Here we provide much-needed clarification on results emerging from the existing literature, demonstrating precisely that such methods (strictly defined) are inherently restricted to a very limited selection of target functions. Continuing to search related techniques for a `silver bullet' generic attack appears a bootless errand. However, we find that a minor relaxation of the strict definition---the incorporation of some minimal non-device-specific intuition---produces scope for generic-emulating strategies, able to succeed against a far wider range of targets. We present stepwise regression as an example of such, and demonstrate its effectiveness in a variety of scenarios. We also give some evidence that its practical performance matches that of `best bit' DoM attacks which we take as further indication for the necessity of performing profiled attacks in the context of device evaluations.

Category / Keywords: side-channel analysis, differential power analysis, generic DPA

Original Publication (in the same form): Proceedings of CT-RSA 2014

Date: received 5 May 2012, last revised 4 Aug 2014

Contact author: carolyn whitnall at bris ac uk

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Note: Revised to match author version of the article as published in the proceedings of CT-RSA 2014.

Version: 20140804:093259 (All versions of this report)

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